Durga Puja woes rise on Covid-19 front as daily death toll crosses 1,000 mark again
With India's 24-hour death toll crossing the 1,000 mark once again after 15 days, scientists on Sunday warned that West Bengal in general and Kolkata in particular, during the four days of Durga Puja, bear a high chance of spreading Covid-19, as per the current trend.
This is a forecast from a disease prediction model being run by a professor at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, who is tracking the pandemic from the very beginning on the basis of the epidemic's R value - a parameter to measure how quickly the infection spreads (R is the number of persons one infected person can spread the infection to).
An R value of 1.9 means that 10 infected persons will on average cause 19 new infections).
The good news is R value is not only less than one for the country as a whole but it is below one and continuously declining for Maharashtra - the state with the maximum number of cases and the highest caseload. Even Karnataka has managed to bring down the R value below one in the last few days.
But the eastern state with a rising R value is a worry.
"West Bengal continues to have R more than one. Currently, it is the only state apart from Kerala in the top 12 states with R value greater than one. More worryingly, over the past week R has actually marginally increased to 1.07 (from 1.05 the week before that).
While this may look like a very small increase, it will result in the active cases increasing exponentially which will soon make these numbers enormous,' IMSc scientist Sitabhra Sinha who is running the model told DH.
'Coming at the heels of the festival when presumably people will be in public places in large numbers, this is alarming." The risk is much more in Kolkata, which reports R value of 1.11 at the moment.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan too flagged the risks. "In different pockets across various states, including West Bengal, community transmission of Covid-19 is expected to occur, especially in densely-populated areas.'
"However, this is not happening across the country. Community transmission is limited to certain districts, occurring in a limited number of states," he said.
In addition, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh too are among the states that are at an increased risk. The three are among the five states - other two being Kerala and Karnataka - where central teams were sent earlier this week to beef up the containment, disease surveillance, infection prevention and clinical management efforts undertaken by the state governments.
With 1,033 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours, India's Covid-19 toll is 1,14,031 on Sunday. The number of active cases now stands at 7.83 lakhs, out of which 61,871 were added in the last 24 hours.